Corporate Social Responsibility is now widely regarded as an essential requirement for businesses of all sizes. Director of ACI Global, Ian Erskine specialises in organisational excellence. Here he explains how he helps businesses make CSR second nature.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has come a long way over the past few years. What was once regarded by many as just another buzzword or PR tool is now being widely adopted by organisations of all sizes, all around the world.
CSR is based firmly on seven (7) key Principles:
- Ethical behaviour
- Respect for stakeholder interests
- Respect for the rule of law
- Respect for International norms of behaviour
- Respect for human rights
More than ever, Leaders of organisations need to demonstrate through personal accountability, transparency and – above all – ethical behaviour, that they can empower their employees to achieve greatness.
By working in a way that empowers others and respects human rights and laws, leaders can demonstrate respect for all stakeholders and foster a culture that encourages genuine enthusiasm for the job.
Staff have been proven time and time again to be more productive and loyal when they’re happy, so engaging in ethical behavior also has a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of an organisation. When people feel valued and engaged they start the day with a smile and go home feeling positive – which means they’re less likely to look for alternative employment.
Behaving ethically and aiming to always get it right the first time doesn’t only make good business sense, it’s essential to forming relationships built on strength and unity.
Someone who knows all about the importance of CSR is Ian Erskine, Managing Director and Owner of ACI Global. The Australian company is an International Learning and Personal Certification Provider specialising in Accelerating Continuous Improvement (ACI). It also focuses on encouraging personal and organisational maturity and development, and has guided a diverse range of global organisations through ISO 26000 guidance.
A highly experienced business leader with over 40 years’ experience, Ian is a firm believer that when businesses invest in the accelerating continuous improvement (ACI) of their people, their organisations will in turn achieve excellence and sustainability.
ACI Global demonstrates that by creating an environment in which people feel valued and fulfilled, doing good comes more naturally. Our reporter Sally spoke to Ian about his background and what CSR means to him.
Hello Ian, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I’m staunchly family oriented, so helping to shape the future of our world is really important to me. I’ve spent 40 years in business and held Leadership roles with organisations such as Shell and Elgas (AGL), where I played a leading role in introducing natural gas into Regional NSW. I owned and operated an ISO consulting company and training business Onedin enterprises before developing ACI Global, and I was a founding member of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Australasia. I am now heavily involved in not just training professionals to become leaders but assisting organisations as a Lead Auditor and Appraiser, showing others how to achieve greatness simply and foremost through adherence to the seven key CSR Principles.
You also have a farming background, is that right?
Yes, I have a lot of personal experience of primary production. I used to own 7,500 acres of dry area land (12-inch average rainfall) and fully developed and drought-proofed the property with piped water from an underground bore. I was one of a number of landowners who bonded together to drought-proof over 200,000 acres of land at no extra cost to the tax payer. I also owned and operated a family run milk delivery franchise with Dairy Farmers.
Why is your work important?
Sustainability and working ethically are really important for everyone these days – we all need to think about our quality of life and the impact that has on ourselves, our families and our loved ones. The space we live in is paramount to our well-being, and as such we must always act as guardians of the environment and provide stewardship for those that follow us.
Our aim is empowerment really, and this is how we guide companies on how to achieve organisational excellence, which is great for them, their employees and their customers.
We are all leaders in some way or another. The need for Accountability, Transparency and Ethics is Paramount in not just the adherence to CSR principles but in all of us as we strive for greatness, whether personal or professional.
Companies that set out clear ethical values and guidelines are also far less likely to find themselves in breach of laws or under scrutiny for poor behavior, and let’s not forget the impact of business on the world we live in.
On a personal level, my work is important to me because I genuinely enjoy sharing the skills, experiences and lessons I’ve learned over the years.
What are the achievements you’re most proud of?
My family is my biggest and proudest achievement. After that, I’m really proud of being a founding member of the GRI , and of how ACI Global continues to support so many professionals and highly skilled leaders in ongoing Leadership development.
The ACI Global model embraces Organisational Leaders, all of whom own their own businesses from many differing backgrounds, and this is what sets us apart from others in our field.
How would you describe your leadership style?
This to me is a difficult question – what you see is what you get! I would hope though that it’s one of trust and openness. I strive to live by the Five Pillars of Leadership – Character, Capability, Invention, Empowerment and just being myself.
What’s your message to other business leaders about Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability?
Having ethics shouldn’t be a chore. Once you’ve built your values and CSR work into your organisation it will become second nature – do it once, do it RIGHT! Our company motto is “Quality is Contagious”, and I really believe that to be true. Our core values of ethics, leadership, passion and enthusiasm, embracing quality and accelerating continuous improvement are at the heart of everything we do – and we love to share that with others.
An interesting footnote in all this is that all too often we hear how badly people and organisations deal with CSR and Sustainability. But the fact is the majority already do it as a norm – often when I broach the topic the stories “untold” are simply inspirational! Otherwise, how else would we be in a World of ever-increasing living standards? Business Sustainability is actually forever increasing – not declining as some would have us believe.
Further information about ACI Global can be found at https://www.aciglobal.com.au/